The Loonie – A Hindrance or An Opportunity?

Whether it was to catch a cheaper flight from Bellingham to Las Vegas or to shop at an I-5 outlet mall, since 2013 many British Columbians were flocking to the nearest lower-mainland border crossing and travelling to the states in search of a good deal.

Canadian dollar the loonieHowever, a weakened Loonie curbed many Canadian shoppers who’d been making the trip south of the border to stay home. Indeed throughout Washington State’s Whatcom County, retailers in border towns like Sumas, Blaine, Lynden and further south to Ferndale and Bellingham have seen dramatic drops in Canadian shoppers since 2013 (BPRI Winter 2017 Brief: Changes in Canadian Shopping Visits in Northwest Washington, 2013 to 2016).

Interestingly though the loonie has rallied in value to a little over 80 cents to the American dollar. Will we see a surge in cross-border activity again here in Whatcom County? We hope so! However, even in light of recent news, there’s more to the ‘cross-border currency’ story than shopping. Like SELLING! CADUSD20yrs

Historically the USD has dominated over the Loonie as reflected in this 20 year chart. (Source)

A paradigm shift. Can Canadians consider the exchange rate between the Canadian Dollar (CAD) – USA Dollar (USD) not as a hindrance, but rather as an opportunity? They should! Here’s why.

Assuming all the proverbial ducks are in a row, ‘I’s dotted and ‘T’s crossed, the savvy B.C. business owner and entrepreneur stands to earn at least 20% more on their U.S. sales in part due to the favorable exchange rate.

“Here are the simple facts” says UCanTrade, Inc. president and dual citizen, Jim Pettinger: “(1) most U.S. land border crossings have been upgraded and are fully open for Canadian goods and people, (2) each sale you make for US$100 nets you C$120 or more, (3) your business presence in the U.S. can lead to a green card and dual-citizen status if you wish , and (4) American buyers (a) love Canadian goods, (b) have double the available money of their Canadian counterparts and (c) make their buying decisions at least  three times as fast.”

If history is an indicator then a long-term outlook is for a weak Loonie. Canadian companies need to immediately seize the opportunity to stake a position in the lucrative U.S. market. With careful planning, the initial cost can be minimal, but the payoff could be enormous.

Interested in learning more about doing business in the USA? Attend our next DBUSA Seminar &/or download this whitepaper “Ten Tips for Better Border Business”.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

Private business ownership is on the decline

Private business ownership is on the decline (with one possible exception – boomers and seniors)

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

According to many sources, private business ownership in the USA (and likely everywhere) is declining. Many reasons are cited, but our experience indicates increasing complexity and risk in two areas: technology and legal burden/liability. The former requires greatly increased up-front investment in people, education, equipment and software, all of which quickly depreciate; while the latter means more government and higher insurance premiums plus various other related costs. Both also require a greatly increased share of management time. Our favorite bastion of free enterprise is Texas, which has published this related article, Entrepreneurship on the Decline.

One possible exception to this trend is the number of boomers and seniors forming businesses, not only because they have the know-how and desire, but also because most feel they will need the extra income to “retire” and pay for medical expenses. One supporter of this trend is Wendy Mayhew who organizes the Wise 50 Over 50 Award and also provides other services for Canadian “Seniors in Business”.

One quibble we have in this context is with the deliberately confusing use of politically correct or misleading/misdirecting terms. “Entrepreneurs” don’t have legal liabilities; business owners do. And related, we would like to see more encouragement of “wealth creation” and less of “job creation”. We would also like to see the increasingly used term “Free Market” share the stage with (and not supplant) “Free Enterprise”. As President Reagan titled his famous 1977 speech at Hillsdale College, Whatever Happened to Free Enterprise. Let’s call it like it is!

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

 

Another reason to expand/relocate your business to the USA?

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

According to a recent article in Business in Vancouver, a minority government in BC could be the “Worst fear for BC Business”. Besides creating more uncertainty, they indicate that the “Future of some major resource and infrastructure projects would be in doubt under a government dependent on co-operation of opposition parties.”

If they hadn’t already made plans based on the continuing weak loonie and increasingly strong U.S. economy, savvy BC business entrepreneurs will view this additional news as a strong signal to seek business and marketing opportunities in the USA. And, for those worried that the new president will close the border, our advice is GET OVER IT! While some trading relationships will obviously be reviewed, U.S. businesses and consumers will continue to consume foreign goods and services in even greater volume. Start planning right now to earn your fair share of the predicted extra-heavy fall and holiday buying season.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

 

The impact of e-commerce on truck manufacturing.

There’s little doubt digital online buying – a.k.a. the ‘Amazon Effect’, is impacting traditional retailers, especially since Walmart has stepped up to the plate to compete with Amazon in this competitive e-commerce space.  While consumers enjoy the benefits of their e-commerce ‘warfare’, another dynamic to the ‘Amazon Effect’ being brought into the forefront is truck and trailer manufacturing.

The supply procedure of any online purchase is run ‘not as a marathon but rather as a relay,’ says Bruce Sauer, of Truck/Body Builder. Adding, “Track coaches typically assign their fastest, most reliable runner to anchor the final leg of the race. It’s where many relays are won and lost”. His clever analogy highlights the importance and emphasis supply chain management and 3PL (third party logistics) companies are putting on the ‘final mile’ – the shipping, handling and delivery phase, of any e-commerce order.  Retailers need to be paying attention too.

Delivery vehicles are being re-designed to have better maneuverability at distribution and fulfillment centers moving away from full truckload models to more ‘metro-friendly freight patterns.’  Additionally, vehicles will likely be lighter and also get better gas mileage; ‘optimized’ so as to maximize cargo space and keep drivers comfortable, safe and able to conduct their job most efficiently. E-commerce has created a ‘trucking revolution’ that has really only just begun.

Since the physical size of the United States remains enormous, trailers will remain to play a vital role says Brent Yeagy, president and chief operating officer at Wabash National, a leading producer of commercial trucking equipment.  However, “E-commerce is not linear,” Yeagy says, “It’s growing exponentially. And its implications for the trucking industry promise to be more disruptive than 99% of us can even fathom at this point.”

Consumer expectations are also a big influencer. AlixPartners, LLP recently found in their 2016 Consumer Shipping Survey, seventy-five percent of e-commerce consumers are ‘greatly impacted’ by free shipping when they are making purchasing decisions. ‘Free and fast’ are what consumers expect and this expectation is another reason delivery vehicle manufacturers are rethinking their designs.

Simply put, a consumers’ last impression of a retailer is based upon their interaction with the ‘delivery company’.  An all out effort to streamline the supply chain down to redefining the design of the delivery truck, are underway.  Ultimately, consistent and reliable order fulfillment and delivery are imperative to any successful e-commerce retailer’s sustainability – especially in the competitive U.S. market.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

(Source: Alix Partners, LLP article: “Final-Mile Delivery: What Do Online Shoppers Want? And How Should Retailers and Their Logistics Partners Respond?”)

(Source: Truck/Body Builder, “How the shipping model of e-commerce is impacting truck body and trailer manufacturers –the ‘Amazon effect’ of fast, free shipping re-routes truck body/trailer builders’ thinking”.)

People from these nations have no U.S. immigration worries

By: Jim Pettinger, President, UCanTrade, Inc.

JayTreaty of 1794

Jay Treaty of 1794 bestows U.S. Citizenship on Canadians with 50% or more native bloodline.

Bellingham, WA immigration attorney, Greg Boos, and his associate, Heather Fathali, of Cascadia Cross-Border Law are leading experts on the Jay Treaty of 1794. Per Boos, “This treaty between the United States and Great Britain was designed in part to mitigate the effects of the boundary line between Canada and the United States on the indigenous peoples who suddenly found their lands bisected. The rights and benefits originally set out by the Jay Treaty—now reflected by U.S. law in § 289 Immigration and Nationality Act—bestow upon Canadians with a 50% or better native bloodline theoretical privileges unparalleled by all but United States citizens to enter the U.S. and remain and work or engage in other lawful activity, virtually unrestricted by U.S. immigration laws. Qualifying Canadians, defined in statute as “American Indians born in Canada” may be of Indian, Inuit, or Métis background if bloodline can be documented.”

For more information, refer to a paper co-authored by Boos at the Border Policy Research Institute. Also, learn more about an upcoming Jay Treaty conference HERE. (Presented by Cascadia Cross-Border Law and Northwest Indian College.)

 

 

Doing Business in the USA – Seminar

Canadian companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs who attend this ‘fast-paced’ seminar will learn from cross-border experts how to ‘determine an export strategy’ and ‘understand their responsibilities’ to U.S. government agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration.

Professional veteran cross-border immigration and business lawyers, accountants, customs brokers and logistics providers will guide attendees through the steps of exporting into the U.S.A., as well as be on hand to answer questions and offer consultation.

Date: Thursday, April 27, 2017
Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm Pacific Time
Place: Hyatt Vancouver, 655 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2R7
Fee: $75.00 CAD plus GST (per attendee)

Questions?  Contact us at (360) 380-6900 for more information or,

CLICK FOR EVENT INFO / TO REGISTER

The Doing Business in the USA seminar is presented by:

dbusa
TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1983.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

Top 10 Insights from 2016

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

In recent years, we have been impressed with the output of Steve Mossop and his team at Insights West, a relatively new market research company that is focused primarily on the West. Every year, they publish approximately 50 public press releases on topics as diverse as municipal and provincial elections, bridge tolls, bike lanes, charitable giving, gas-fracking, road safety, housing affordability, employee satisfaction, social media trends, and many other topics. For a sampling, check out their annual list of “Top 10 Insights” from 2016. I recommend signing up for their newsletter at the bottom of their home page.

Omnichannel Consumer

Evolving beyond ‘multi-channel retailing’, omnichannel is all about creating ‘a seamless consumer experience’ and is being called ‘the future of retail’.

A recent survey from the Harvard Business Review states omnichannel consumers are “shoppers who engage with retailers across multiple touchpoints” adding “[they] are driving boosts in conversion rates both online and offline” making them one of the most if not, THE most valuable consumer in the retail market.  One of the reasons they’re so valuable is because consumers shopping from multiple resources versus from just one allows multiple opportunities to buy.  Further, the survey reportedly states, “[omnichannel consumers have] become increasingly reliant on more than one channel to aid in their purchasing decisions.”  Therefore, consumers are getting to know brands and establishing their loyalties across these multiple digital and in-person channels as well.

The phenomenon is forcing retailers – both traditional brick-and-mortar stores as well as e-commerce merchants, to supply multiple (digital) shopping tools in order to attract ‘the larger audience’.  In the case of the ‘physical retailers’, it’s in their best interest to invest in multiple digital omnichannel tools as well as their online counterparts since digitally promoting ‘in-store visits’ has been proven to increase foot traffic into stores.

It’s becoming more and more apparent Business to Consumer (B2C) companies must consider an omnichannel marketing strategy but one significant factor in their marketing strategies often overlooked is logistics.  “You can’t have marketing without logistics,” says Jim Pettinger, president of UCanTrade, Inc.

Recall that at the center of any omnichannel approach is the consumer.  Retailers (physical &/or online) need to plan for a ‘seamless consumer experience’.  They need to ensure an easy shopping experience – products are easily found, ordering & payment transactions are simple and smooth; the consumer receives what they ordered intact, quickly and can return it just as easily if they change their mind.

Companies using off-shore manufacturers need to plan cost-effective, customer centric product and packaging designs.  In a time where consumer expectations are high, ecommerce is exploding and dimensional shipping is the norm, partnering with an expert in international shipping and handling can be invaluable. (Related article:  E-Commerce returns – Tips to reduce costs)
TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

(Source: http://omnichannel.me/what-is-omnichannel/http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-omnichannel-consumers-are-more-valuable-2017-1)

E-Commerce Returns – Tips to reduce costs

UPS reports high volumes of ‘holiday returns’ following 2016’s ‘unprecedented volume of online sales’.  E-Commerce returns present new challenges for sellers but in particular for Canadian e-commerce companies selling to U.S. consumers.

Even for U.S. e-commerce retailers it’s a struggle to find balance between often unanticipated reverse logistics costs and satisfying their customers’ high expectations for ‘an easy shopping experience.’  It’s especially difficult for Canadian exporters.  Canadians benefit by having a return address IN the USA – near the border, rather than discourage possible sales with a Canadian return address. (Related article: Return to Sender)

While each return is unique, some suggest including a pre-addressed, self-adhering ‘return label’ with each original shipment for easy return to your U.S. address with a suggestion to reuse the original packaging.  Recycling the original shipping box w/packing materials for reverse logistics purposes can reduce damage and shipping costs since most carriers ‘charge by dimensional weight standards’ (Related article: UPS / Fed-Ex Switch to Dimensional Weight).

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

(source)

“Commodity” versus “value-added” order fulfillment

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

Third-party fulfillment warehouses have existed for many years, originally developing to handle “mail order” from various catalog companies, large and small. However, with the recent explosion of e-commerce and other internet sales, it’s become a whole new ball game. A major trend is the differentiation between low-cost, high-volume “commodity” sales, mainly to consumers, and higher-price, lower-volume sales, both to consumers and businesses (e.g., retailers). Typically, the latter require a variety of “value-added’ services because their customers have more clout and can request special services, such as unique packaging, price tags and point-of-sale materials. Unfortunately, many “newbies’ to the fulfillment game are caught in between because they have few sales and need “hand-holding” as they learn the ropes. We usually recommend they invest in some initial hand-holding from a value-added fulfillment company while they work through their initial marketing, product and packaging issues.

Naturally, the largest and most prominent example of a modern commodity fulfillment operation is “Fulfillment by Amazon” (FBA). If you’re new to the game, it’s worth doing some research via Google to fully understand the requirements and costs (fees, surcharges and returns).

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade